Local industry hopes
to see growth in sales

Congressman Marion Berry (right) recently toured Water Hog Inc. in Hoxie and visited with owner Rick Spargo.
Gretchen Hunt

A local industry could prove to be a diamond in the rough, according to Hoxie Mayor Donnie Roberts.

Water Hog Inc., located in Hoxie, manufactures an irrigation pump system invented by owner Rick Spargo.

"He's created a brand new system," Roberts said. "It pumps more water with less throttle."

The Water Hog system moves surface water, rather than tapping ground water through a well.

The business currently operates with four employees, but Roberts said he sees the chance for it to develop into a much larger industry.

Congressman Marion Berry toured Water Hog recently. Roberts said he had spoken with John Andrews, a local farmer and friend and supporter of Berry's, and Spargo had spoken with Greg Cash.

"Between the two, Congressman Berry's office called and set up a time for him to come," Roberts said. "He was very receptive."

Congressman Berry said he routinely meets with constituents in the district to discuss their businesses and economic development and was invited to visit Spargo's business and learn more about his product.

"I was impressed by the demonstration of his pumps and their ability to move water quickly and efficiently," Berry said. "Access to water is essential for growth and development, and I'm glad to see entrepreneurs and small businesses in Arkansas take an active interest in helping people better control their water supply."

Britt Jones, who farms in Clover Bend, uses a Water Hog pump and said he has been very pleased with its effectiveness.

"It does great," he said. "It's cut my fuel way down while producing more water than three wells could. It's really helped me a bunch."

Jones said he is able to pump water from the river into one field and then use the Water Hog to pump water from it over into another field that had always been irrigated using well water. Land that used to cost $100 an acre to irrigate can now be done for approximately $25 an acre.

"Instead of pumping out of the ground 90 feet, it's catching rain water and putting it back in use," Jones said. "It's a very efficient way of watering."

In addition to being used by farmers, Spargo's invention is being used by Arkansas Game and Fish, as well.

Sam Henry, fishery management biologist, said Game and Fish uses the Water Hog to fill Lake Ashbaugh, which is located 10 miles east of Pocahontas in Greene County.

"We're more than pleased with the Water Hog's productivity," he said. "For us, the Water Hog is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It allows us to pump the lake up in a very short period of time and a lot cheaper."

Henry said a basic re-lift pump was previously used to fill the lake. Now a Water Hog pumps water from a canal, located on the northwest corner of the lake, which holds overflow from the Black River.

"We moved 2,500 to 3,000 acre feet of water this year in 41 days," he said. "Under the old system it would have taken at least four to five months to move that much water."

Henry said they have a contract with Spargo, and when they begin filling the lake the pump runs continuously until it is full.

"Before, we would begin in mid-November and run until March or April, and sometimes not even get the lake to normal," Henry said. "That's how much better this Water Hog is."

Approval to be included in a Natural Resources Conservation Service program that provides for a percentage of the funding to purchase new pumps could propel Water Hog to a much larger industry.

Spargo said his pumps must be tested for efficiency, taking into account the number of gallons it pumps and the amount of fuel used. He said he hopes that the test, which could qualify the pumps to be a part of the NRCS program, can be performed soon.

"I have four pumps ready to be tested right now," he said. "If approved, farmers would receive a portion of the purchase price from NRCS."

Spargo said he understands that farmers are more likely to choose a pump they can receive assistance purchasing, even if it might not be their first choice.

"I hope to be able to work with NRCS to get the project moving forward," Spargo said.

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